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Crews Work to Complete Metro Atlanta Project

Thu June 06, 2024 - Southeast Edition #12
Irwin Rapoport – CEG Correspondent


The project’s purpose is to rebuild aging infrastructure, improve traffic flow and improve safety for motorists in Brookhaven (DeKalb County), a city in Metro Atlanta.
Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation
The project’s purpose is to rebuild aging infrastructure, improve traffic flow and improve safety for motorists in Brookhaven (DeKalb County), a city in Metro Atlanta.
The project’s purpose is to rebuild aging infrastructure, improve traffic flow and improve safety for motorists in Brookhaven (DeKalb County), a city in Metro Atlanta.   (Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation) Construction crews are making steady progress on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) $79 million design-build I-85 at SR 42/North Druid Hills Road project in Dekalb County.   (Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation) Contractors finalized a temporary traffic signal and new intersection to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta North Druid Hills campus at State Route 42/North Druid Hills Road on June 1.   (Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation) The project, which started in late 2023, is adding a displaced left turn for the westbound to southbound movement, constructing an additional bridge over I-85, adding a braided ramp from the I-85 northbound (NB) off-ramp to I-85 NB access road and replacing SR 42/North Druid Hills Road bridge over Peachtree Creek.   (Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation) For the construction of the new bridges, cranes are working in tandem to lift and place concrete beams to construct the superstructure of the bridges.   (Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation)

Construction crews continue to make strides for the completion of the Georgia Department of Transportation's (GDOT) $79 million design-build I-85 at SR 42/North Druid Hills Road project to rebuild aging infrastructure, improve traffic flow and improve safety for motorists in Brookhaven (DeKalb County), a city in Metro Atlanta.

GDOT announced that contractors finalized a temporary traffic signal and new intersection to the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta North Druid Hills campus at State Route 42/North Druid Hills Road on June 1.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation

As part of the I-85 at SR 42/North Druid Hills Road project, this construction milestone will support the future opening of Arthur M. Blank Hospital expected in late September 2024.

Officials also noted that the existing Tullie Road entrance will close permanently, with overall construction continuing into 2025. The project, which started in late 2023, is adding a displaced left turn for the westbound to southbound movement, constructing an additional bridge over I-85, adding a braided ramp from the I-85 northbound (NB) off-ramp to I-85 NB access road and replacing SR 42/North Druid Hills Road bridge over Peachtree Creek.

"Contractors closed the State Route [SR] 42/North Druid Hills Road bridge over North Fork Peachtree Creek for 90 days to safely expedite bridge reconstruction work," GDOT said in a press release. "The bridge replacement is part of the larger Interstate 85 at SR 42/North Druid Hills Road interchange improvement project now under way."

The project is constructing an additional bridge over I-85, parallel to North Druid Hills and a braided ramp from the I-85 northbound (NB) off-ramp to I-85 NB access road and replacing the bridge on SR 42/North Druid Hills Road over North Fork Peachtree Creek.

"The completion of this project will reduce crash frequency and congestion at the interchange of I-85 and SR 42," said Kyle Collins, a GDOT communications program manager. "A displaced left turn [is being] added to the interchange to allow left turning vehicles and through traffic to travel simultaneously through the intersection."

The DLT will reduce the number of conflict points and help improve mobility in the corridor.

"The project team is coordinating with the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta North Druid Hills campus and Emory related to the realignment of Executive Park Drive, as well as a new entrance to the Arthur M. Blank Hospital which will open [this fall]," added Collins. "The North Druid Hills Road Bridge [is being replaced] with a wider bridge that's better equipped for increasing traffic levels in the area. The new bridge structure will also be beneficial for pedestrians with wider sidewalks and ADA compliant ramps at crosswalks."

Bridge Work

For the construction of the new bridges, cranes are working in tandem to lift and place concrete beams to construct the superstructure of the bridges. The ample workspace ensures that crane operators and their teams can plan the lifts properly and not be rushed by limited hours.

At the I-85 at SR 43 bridge site, the beams are more than 100 ft. long. Both sides of the bridge had been prepared in advance, with recycled concrete fill placed on the slopes. The road sections to be connected by the deck were prepared to the point where the road base had been established, along with rebar. Once the beams were placed and the superstructure ready for the concrete pours, the paving crews would be in a position to use cranes with pumps to complete the deck. The bridge pans a small valley that does not have any roads.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Transportation

The bridge site, not being close to highway lanes, gave the site prep crews the opportunities to conduct excavation operations to prepare the approaches to the structure. The work also involved preparing the slopes, which required serious planning to determine the sequencing and have the appropriate materials readily accessible. The slopes, although small, were steep at times, which stressed the need for serious safety measures.

The demolition of the old bridge also made use of cranes, which lifted sections that were cut. The work started with the deck being removed, followed by the removal of the substructure, consisting of columns and piers. The material was removed rapidly, which permitted crews to install underground infrastructure rapidly. The solid planning was such that material for this work was placed in optimum spaces. The circular pipe was between three and eight feet wide.

Concrete reserved for creating fill for the slopes was broken up on-site by excavators, including Kobelco models with attachments.

For the road work near the new bridge, crews had ample space alongside the I-85 to work in areas that were free of traffic. In May, teams were able to work on sections of road as part of the interchange upgrade. On one side, there was a new roundabout prepared and side site crews prepared the areas for asphalt roads to help with traffic flow when opened up to motorists on the I-85.

In April, road crews in the Peachtree section were working on the construction of new exits and roads alongside the new bridge, which was open to traffic.

As the construction progresses, new sections of road and bridges are open to traffic whenever possible. Being able to accomplish this requires careful planning in terms of construction and coordination with GDOT.

The sprawling construction site is located in an area that is close to institutions, such as hospitals, large green spaces, businesses and some residential. In some cases, the work is taking place next to the highway and in other spots, large sections that crews and equipment can operate freely, with ample space for materials, field offices, equipment repair sites, and layout areas.

Equipment-wise, there a large number of cranes — crawler cranes and others, large excavators, various loaders and multi-purpose trucks, dozers, skid steers and other standard pieces of iron required to deal with many type of materials, such as long and heavy concrete beams for bridges, various types of pipe, fill and others. CEG


Irwin Rapoport

A journalist who started his career at a weekly community newspaper, Irwin Rapoport has written about construction and architecture for more than 15 years, as well as a variety of other subjects, such as recycling, environmental issues, business supply chains, property development, pulp and paper, agriculture, solar power and energy, and education. Getting the story right and illustrating the hard work and professionalism that goes into completing road, bridge, and building projects is important to him. A key element of his construction articles is to provide readers with an opportunity to see how general contractors and departments of transportation complete their projects and address challenges so that lessons learned can be shared with a wider audience.

Rapoport has a BA in History and a Minor in Political Science from Concordia University. His hobbies include hiking, birding, cycling, reading, going to concerts and plays, hanging out with friends and family, and architecture. He is keen to one day write an MA thesis on military and economic planning by the Great Powers prior to the start of the First World War.


Read more from Irwin Rapoport here.





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